Clinical Applications of Stem Cells
Stem Cell Therapies have the potential to make a tremendous impact on the general well being of the nation, physically, economically, and psychologically. About 128 million people suffer from chronic, degenerative, and acute diseases, and stem cell therapies hold great promise in the treatment of many of these diseases. Thus, virtually everyone could benefit from stem cell therapies whether directly, or indirectly through a sick family member or friend. More specifically, stem cells have the potential to treat diseases, in addition to diabetes, such as:
Nervous System Diseases:
Many nervous system diseases result from the loss of nerve cells. Mature nerve cells cannot divide and replace lost cells. Without regeneration of lost nerve tissue, no therapeutic possibility exists. In Parkinsonís disease, nerve cells secreting dopamine die. In Alzheimerís disease cells that make other neurotransmitters die. In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, motor nerve cells that activate muscles die. Many different types of cells are lost in other injuries such as spinal cord injury, brain trauma, and stroke. Furthermore, glia, the cells that protect nerve fibers are lost in multiple sclerosis. Creating new nerve tissue from pluripotent stem cells offers a potential therapy for these diseases .
Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases
Diseases such as severe combined immunodeficiency disease, Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome and the autoimmune disease lupus, as well as AIDS, all characterized by an unusual susceptibility to infection, have the potential to be treated by stem cell therapies. Pluripotent stem cells could be used to regenerate the missing immune cells of virtually all primary immunodeficiency diseases. The transplantation of stem cells reconstituted with the normal genes could restore immune function and a normal quality of life for these people .
Diseases of Bone and Cartilage
Stem cells could be used to differentiate and correct many degenerative conditions of bone and cartilage. This therapy also holds promise for genetic disorders such as osteogenesis imperfecta and chondrodysplasias, as well as for conditions resulting from physical damage such as osteoarthritis and bone fractures.
Cancer- In cases of leukemia, bone marrow stem cells are injected into a recipient following chemotherapy. This is an attempt to restore immune function after virtually destroying. Unfortunately, these recovered cells have a limited ability to differentiate and restore immune function completely in this setting .
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